Climbing in Horseshoe Canyon
While Horseshoe Canyon may not be the biggest climbing destination in the States, the climbing is super high quality and the canyon definitely warrants a few days to explore. Horseshoe is in the northern Arkansas Ozarks right near the Buffalo River National Park.
The rock is similar to the sandstone in the Red. It is high friction, very solid and an absolute blast to climb on. Routes at Horseshoe Canyon are mostly vertical as opposed to the Red’s overhanging power fests.
We stopped by in mid-June and the weather was sweltering. We did alright chasing the shade, but the heat and humidity were still pretty brutal. As is the case in so many places, the fall is best in Horseshoe and the spring is nice but wet. Don’t be shocked by thunderstorms throughout the summer either.
All of the climbing in Horseshoe is on private land. Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is a tourist dude ranch complete with AC cabins, swimming pool, hot tub, and all sorts of Western activities. If this isn’t what you’re looking for the folks at the Ranch also let you climb on their land for $5 per person per day and you can camp (toilets and water included, shower extra) for another $5 per person. Alternatively you can camp at the nearby Kyle’s Landing forest service campground for $15 per site of up to 6 people. The sites are right on the river which makes for a great après-climbing dip.
It’s kind of a kicker to pay for climbing every day. As a serious budget traveler I love climbing because access is usually free. But the folks at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch are nice people who are kind enough to open their land for you to enjoy and the climbing is great. They also have a pretty awesome disc golf course you can play for a rest day.